Easthampton exploring sites for new dog park

Staff Writer 
Published: 1/11/2019 7:43:32 PM

EASTHAMPTON — City councilors are exploring the possibility of a dog park in Easthampton and are working to determine the best site for people to unleash their pets in an enclosed area.

City Councilor James Kwiecinski said the area could be anywhere from 1 to 3 acres for the park to be large enough for “dogs to roam free.”

The city’s property subcommittee met Thursday to discuss the idea. Members landed on four locations for site visits, which will take place on Saturday, Jan. 20, at 11:30 a.m. The public is invited to attend those site visits, said Kwiecinski, chairman of the committee.

The tour of potential sites will begin at the former Parsons Elementary School at 48 Parsons St. which abuts Lincoln Street, followed by visits to the old boy scout camp at the end of Highland Ave., the landfill at 155 Oliver St., and 226 Park St. near the Treehouse Foundation community.

Determining the best site for a dog park is the first step in applying for grant funding from the Stanton Foundation, established by longtime CBS president Frank Stanton. The foundation awards up to 10 grants a year for design and construction costs of dog parks in Massachusetts.

The grants typically range from $10,000 to $25,000 for design of a park. Construction grants, which cover up to 90 percent of the project, range anywhere from $100,000 to $225,000, according to the Stanton Foundation.

Before applying for the grant the city is required to formally identify potential locations for a dog park as well as an initial design, Kwiecinski said.

“There is no commitment for the city to anything except the initial consultant funds to prepare an application for the design grant,” Kwiecinski said. Hiring a consultant could cost anywhere between $1,000 to $9,000.

“Essentially, the consultant would help us in evaluating the sites and making the application,” Kwiecinski said. “We would have to give a break down of how we envision the park so that a consulting engineer could design the actual park,” if the Stanton grant is awarded to Easthampton.

Funding to hire the initial consultant would come from the Community Preservation Act Committee, Kwiecinski said, which will take up the request at its meeting on Thursday.

City councilor and member of the property subcommittee Owen Zaret said that CPA funding would be “the ideal source so we don’t have to use money from the general fund or make appropriations from the city. This is exactly what CPA was designed for.” 

Zaret added that people interested in becoming involved with the dog park project should contact him at: ozaret@easthamptonma.gov. 

Kwiecinski said the earliest the grant application could be ready would be in May. He expects the CPA and City Council to review the proposal for hiring the initial cons  ultant during meetings in February and March.

“I’m asking anybody who might be interested in a dog park to contact me,” Kwiecinski said.

“It’s important that as we start to look at the dog park and location, we also come up with a way to educate people who will use the park to be cognizant of all the rules and the appropriate behavior for dogs,” he  added.

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